Hourou Musuko Episode Three

I dunno, Starducks… you’ve got some pretty stiff competition from Starbobs, if you ask me.

I continue to be quite impressed with the amount of information that AIC is managing to get into every episode; there’s this paradox that is quite striking about the whole thing, as episodes themselves seem quite long as they are happening yet once they are finished it seems as if no time has gone by at all. It seems like the pacing is very, very languid, and yet one comes away feeling like they’ve taken in a lot. I can’t quite put it into words correctly. But I can say that I like it, and I think it is an extremely effective way to fill in some of the gaps that were produced by picking up several volumes into the manga.

This episode raises an interesting question as to the existence of fixed sexual orientation, although it doesn’t address it directly nor does it actually ask it. Or, perhaps, rather, it questions how important gender in terms of attraction. Saori has a crush on Nitori, and likes having him dressed up in girls’ clothing. Seya had a crush on Nitori originally because he thought that he was a she, now he dates Maho, but he’s still clearly a bit thrown off by Nitori – he blushes when he sees Maho trying to strip him and also before that when in conversation with him at school. And Nitori himself has a crush on a girl who wants to be a boy and often dresses as one.

There are also some other characters who reinforce this line of skepticism who have yet to appear yet. I would like to reference them, but I’ll decline in favor of not giving anything away. I’m a bit more considerate of non-manga readers than some of my Shiki readers were.

One of the things I like a lot about Hourou Musuko, and which I actually only just noticed in watching this episode, is the size and diversity of the female cast. Its certainly a change of pace from most shows which orient themselves around a male lead, which either follow the model of having mostly male characters or go the harem route with full trope flair. The girls here aren’t all interested in Nitori (thank the lord), and there are no tsundere -types to be found. In fact, the closest comparison I can think of is the cast of MariMite in terms of character-types and characterization.

…oh, yeah, and something called Aoi Hana.

I can relate strongly to Takatsuki’s bra crisis. It was pretty earth shattering to me when my own mother told me privately that I needed to start wearing a bra; I can’t even conceive of how much it would’ve killed me to have a classmate loudly call me out in front of others about it.

…wow, actually, now that I think on it? There was a kid in my 7th grade class who constantly harassed me over his insistence that I never wore a bra. I’d completely forgotten about that. I found puberty to be fairly traumatizing without this kid doing that, either. I realllllly hated my breasts. Their development really weirded me out. Nowadays, I tend to think of them as handy hand-warmers for the wintertime, so I managed to adjust eventually. But, yeah, there was that kid… he probably did it because no one liked him in our class and we all thought he was really weird. He came out in high school, so the kid had probably been feeling traumatized himself by the changes he was going through and the things he was beginning to notice. When you’re not comfortable with yourself, you tend to actively make others uncomfortable. It kind of distracts from one’s own issues.

But kids are a bit cruel, aren’t they? Sarashina obviously didn’t mean any harm when she called out Takatsuki, nor did she when she grabbed her from behind toward the end of the episode. But she rattled Takatsuki pretty badly.

I wonder – which is worse? Intended cruelty, or unintended cruelty? Intended cruelty has that meanness of the ill will, but unintended cruelty is in some ways harsher, particularly if it comes from a friend. After all, a friend should know better than that, right? Obviously, Sarashina doesn’t know Takatsuki that well, doesn’t know about her desire to be a boy, so its a bit different than if it were, say, Saori who had pointed out the breast thing. But unintended cruelty nevertheless carries a hint of carelessness about it.

EDIT: Here’s a story that just surfaced on Salon about a mother renaming her transgendered child. It may be of some interest to you if you are following Hourou Musuko, particularly as it deals with a child who is roughly the same age as the kids in HM.

EDIT #2: Chronolynx has a great post over on T.H.A.T. Anime Blog about episode two. He explains how the show manages to pack so much info in so deftly in a much more well-written fashion. Chronolynx also talks about why Hourou Musuko is so refreshing an entry into the annals of anime.

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9 Responses to Hourou Musuko Episode Three

  1. Elineas says:

    Too late! Even the most minor of spoilers go through!

    I’m pointing at the confirmation you made of Seya’s crush on Shu. A non-manga reader like myself can see that the two have met and Seya is in some form smitten, but the impression is simply that of mistaken identity that he’s corrected. Maho just seems peeved that her brother is more attractive than her. Of course, your statement establishes that there’s a lot more, hence the spoilers.

    Still, the spoiler itself shows the strength of the show’s subtle cues, as every little reaction can be traced to something that happened in the past. This is how any show with significant baggage should work, because in works like these we want verisimilitude. From your standpoint you may just be happy that the show is running smoothly, but from my point of view it’s been moving marvelously because it manages to encapsulate its past so easily while pushing forward in the present. I tip my hat to Okada and the director for making this series so strong even when they’ve skipped who knows how many chapters.

    That also means I’ve vowed to avoid the manga like the plague until the show finishes running and must disagree with you on some parts, such as the bookends in episode 1, that I feel help the non-manga reader grasp the situation more easily. I don’t think I can judge the show completely unless I see it on its own merits. A shame too, as I get the urge to look through it whenever I do my other manga reading.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I suppose I was taking my manga biases, as to me it seemed as if the material in the anime confirmed it all by itself. Sorry about that ^^;
      Actually, the English-language release of the manga will nearly coincide with the end of the anime, so you’ll be able to even read it on paper without spoiling yourself~

  2. Jack says:

    Oniiisama e… (Brother, Dear Brother) also has a large and diverse range of female characters.

    Okay, so most of them are insane. But there’s diversity within that group as well!

    It takes a skilful hand to pack an episode with as much content as the team working on this show do, especially without making the episode itself too dense. It’s impressive.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Man, Oniisama e… Its been a looong time since I’ve watched that! I should probably read the manga at some point. I personally prefer Hourou Musuko, though 😉

  3. qwertyuiohgfdsdfghj



    I loved the ep. It felt like an hour long — but not in a boring “when does it end” way, but for the sheer amount of stuff in it.

    More and more I realize how awkward it is for me to talk about the details of this show. Let it suffice that I love it, and that I found your post good.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yes! You said it exactly. It felt long but not in a bad way at all. I just felt so absorbed by it.
      Glad you liked my post =)

  4. Starducks

    Whoa, I didn’t even realize that! Guess I’m getting rusty =3

    I can relate to your mom’s bra discussion, though from a male’s perspective. Since I never had my dad or any other father-figure, my mom had the masturbation/sex talk with me. Let’s just say it was a bit awkward… “Jesus, it’s okay to look at porn, and it’s okay to masturbate. GO DO IT!!!” I feel that boys learn masturbation naturally, at least that’s how I learned it. My friend showed me porn, my thingy got hard, and I played around with it (in private). I’m glad my mom is understanding, but yea… SORRY THIS IS REALLY AWKWARD!!!

    Back on the anime: Sarashina’s boob-grab had less impact than in the manga, at least it felt as such. It feels more diluted here… which is sorta funny cause HAHA WATERCOLORS GET IT?!?! *BA DUM PSH* YEAHHH!!! *HIGH FIVES*

    The girls here aren’t all interested in Nitori (thank the lord)

    As a manga fan, I was really hoping Sarashina or Sasa would hook up with Shuu… but maybe it’s cause I have a big crush on those characters…

    Anyway, I agree with Ghostlightning! Great post! :>

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Glad that you also liked my post.
      If I’m shipping anyone, and I feel awkward about shipping in such a serious story (and, uh, with kids), I’d probably pull for Nitori and Takatsuki. On the other hand, I also have this really… I’m trying to think of how to put it. I have this strong appreciation for friendships, for those friendships where you feel like you just really get each other, so I’m not sure I would want them to get together. THE BEAUTIFUL BONDS OF PURE FRIENDSHIP!!!!
      One of my parents tried to have the sex talk with me. I forget which. I basically went “LA LA LA” and didn’t listen. Then I discovered fanfiction. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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